Ministerial Library of Schaffhausen

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Here You will find informations concerning
- the library
- its holdings
- the Ministerial Society
- Donations
- links to digitalized codices and catalogues

The Library

Nearly every monastery in Europe in the Middle Ages had a small or larger library consisting of handwritten books copied by skilled monks on parchement, often enriched by illuminations. In fact, monasteries were the centres of the literal tradition in Europe those days. And when Gutenberg developed the first printing press, monasteries added the first – often still hand coloured – prints (called Incunables) onto their bookshelves.
The All Saints Monastery in Schaffhausen was no exception to this. But with the reorganization of religious institutions and state in Schaffhausen during the reformation, the monastery's library was handed over to the newly formed Reformed Church of Schaffhausen. And in 1568 we find a document naming this collection of books the "Bibliotheca Scaphusiana ad sanctum Ioannem", the Schaffhausen library at » St. John’s church. There, in a small side room of the choir of the largest church of Schaffhausen the valuable manuscripts, incunables and prints found their home for the next centuries.
This Ministerial Library, as it was called from the 17th century, today is valued in total and in parts a cultural heritage of national importance.
1923 the books were moved into the building of the municipal library of Schaffhausen at the Goldstein street. Based on a treaty dating from 1948 the holdings and their administration were handed over to the municipal library as a permanent loan.
However the regulations of the Ministerial Library say, the historic holdings of the Library must not be sold.


The core of the collection are the medieval parchment manuscripts which had been part of the monastery’s library. They have newly been catalogued in 1989-1994 with financial help of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
The next layer of holdings are valuable incunables and early prints of the 16th century. Added was the inheritance of Johann Conrad Ulmer, the 2nd reformator of Schaffhausen (1519-1600). The collection was again enriched significantly, when in 1871 Rev. Gottlob Kirchhofer donated the manuscripts and letters of Johann Georg Mueller (+1819), brother of the historian Johannes von Mueller (+1809) to the library – a fundus of historical informations taking several meters of shelves.
Requests for objects on loan reach the library from Switzerland and abroad. These and research being done in the holdings of the library by national and international scholars show that the reputation of the Ministerial Library of Schaffhausen stands international comparison.

The Ministerial Society

The Ministerial Society ("Ministerium") of Schaffhausen consists of church ministers ordained by, active in service of or retired by the Reformed Church of Schaffhausen. Its purpose is to own, increase and conserve the holdings of the Ministerial Library.


The conservation of such a heritage ist very costly. The restauration of one book easily requires 10'000 or more Swiss Francs (or € or $). The members of the Ministerial Society are not in a position to cover these costs by their membership fees. Therefore donations (which are tax-deductible under Swiss law) are always most welcome.

CH66 0900 0000 8200 4190 5
Ministerialbibliothek, 8200 Schaffhausen

Swiss Post - PostFinance
Nordring 8
3030 Bern

In Switzerland, these donations are tax deductible!
Thank you very much!